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Narcissists less prone to depression and stress, Queen University study finds

Dr Papageorgiou’s research suggests that in some ways, narcissism might actually be a positive attribute (PA)
Dr Papageorgiou’s research suggests that in some ways, narcissism might actually be a positive attribute (PA)

While Narcissism is generally considered a negative trait, people who have it could be better equipped to deal with stress and depression, researchers from Queen's University Belfast have found.

The results of the research showed that people who have grandiose narcissistic traits are more likely to be "mentally tough".

It also found that people who score high on grandiose narcissism have lower levels of perceived stress and are therefore less likely to view their life as stressful.

Dr Kostas Papageorgiou from Queen's School of Psychology explained how people benefit from narcissism.

He said that Narcissism is part of the ‘Dark Tetrad’ of personality that also includes Machiavellianism, Psychopathy and Sadism.

"There are two main dimensions to narcissism – grandiose and vulnerable," he explained.

"Vulnerable narcissists are likely to be more defensive and view the behaviour of others as hostile whereas grandiose narcissists usually have an over inflated sense of importance and a preoccupation with status and power.”

“Individuals high on the spectrum of dark traits, such as narcissism, engage in risky behaviour, hold an unrealistic superior view of themselves, are overconfident, show little empathy for others, and have little shame or guilt.

“However, what this research has questioned is – if narcissism, as an example of the dark tetrad, is indeed so socially toxic, why does it persist and why is it on the rise in modern societies?”

Dr Papageorgiou published two papers on narcissism and psychopathology after three independent studies involving more than 700 adults.

Those who score high on certain aspects of narcissism may be more mentally tough (PA)
Those who score high on certain aspects of narcissism may be more mentally tough (PA)

The results show that grandiose narcissism correlates with very positive components of mental toughness, such as confidence and goal orientation, protecting against symptoms of depression and perceived stress.

“This research really helps to explain variation in symptoms of depression in society - if a person is more mentally tough they are likely to embrace challenges head on, rather than viewing them as a hurdle," Dr Papageorgiou said.

He accepted that not all dimensions of narcissism are good, but said that some can lead to positive outcomes.

"This work promotes diversity and inclusiveness of people and ideas by advocating that dark traits, such as narcissism, should not be seen as either good or bad, but as products of evolution and expressions of human nature that may be beneficial or harmful depending on the context," Dr Papageorgiou said.

“This move forward may help to reduce the marginalisation of individuals that score higher than average on the dark traits. It could also facilitate the development of research-informed suggestions on how best to cultivate some manifestations of these traits, while discouraging others, for the collective good.”

An event on Mental Toughness and Narcissism is being held at Queen’s on November 15.

For more information visit https://aqrinternational.co.uk/event/mental-toughness-symposium

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